Thursday, September 2, 2010

Meeting Mr. Noodles

     “I like your trenchcoat, man,” said the kid with skin like flour and a sandy brown frohawk. The leather jacket draped on his shoulders said something in red and studs about anarchy and/or fighting the machine or some band which hopes to do both. He wore bright red plaid pants and giant, shiny leather Doc Martens. Plain, silver rimmed glasses rested on his face which was dotted here and there with the occasional brown beauty mark. He was talking to another young gentleman, a tall, gangly 20-something with a curly tuft of goatee.

     “Yeah, some old burnout gave it to me,” he said, looking his own coat approvingly. It was too big, covered in grey swipes of what was probably street dirt. He wore it like a vest, bare chested with a magenta scarf tied around his waist like a belt. His clothes hung on him like a scarecrow as he perched against a railing and conversed with Frohawk.

     “I really like it, though,” he continued. “But yeah, thanks man. I really appreciate it. What’s your name?” He stuck out his hand. “I’m Mr. Noodles.”

It’s the stuff like this you can’t make up.

Yesterday, I went down to Union Square. The park itself has an outer edge lined with black iron and brown wooden benches, all covered in people. Then the green space in the center of the park has a ton of little, bright green tables and chairs where people sit closely to each other and talk quietly about nothing at all. People also sit three-deep on the concrete steps closest to 14th Street and the subway stations, just looking out at the intersections and the traffic.

My primary reason for being there, though, was to photo graph the conglomerate of young and old hipsters and hustlers who bustle through it at all different times of the day and use the park in different ways. Some people happily munch on treats from Whole Foods, directly adjacent to the square. Others read in unison on park benches, talk on the phone, sketch, fall asleep, cuddle under trees. Chess players challenge passersby, graffiti artists give away the works they sprayed on city maps, vegan spiritualists hand out important rocks. Being there and seeing all of these different kinds of people is really just a cultural experience in and of itself.

Photographing people in Union Square is an interesting experience because so many people are there to people watch on their own, and documenting people-watchers is not incredibly interesting. But occasionally you end up with some brilliant subjects and you thank the photo gods for smiling on you. Here are some pictures from the day (I only wish they could be bigger on here).




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